Fastest journey12hr 48m
It is very easy to travel by train from Bath to Barcelona. The journey starts with a run up to London on a Great Western Railway train from Bath Spa to Paddington station, from where it is just a short hop on the tube to St Pancras.
From St Pancras, you’ll take a Eurostar train to Paris, where you’ll need to change stations. At the Gare de Lyon you’ll board a fast, direct TGV to Barcelona. It’s a ride that sweeps south through France, skirts the Mediterranean coast and then dives under the Pyrenees to reach Catalonia. The journey from Bath to Barcelona can be done in under 13 hours.
Booking for the entire journey opens about 12 weeks in advance of travel, and that’s when you’ll find the cheapest tickets. You may consider booking the journey from London to Barcelona even earlier, as that’s available for sale four months in advance. You can then always add the connecting domestic UK leg when tickets are released for sale a little later.
Bath to London
Most fast trains from Bath Spa take between 85 and 95 minutes for the 170-km journey to London Paddington, making three or four intermediate stops along the way. This is a very pleasant ride. You may catch a glimpse of the Uffington White Horse as the train skirts the Berkshire Downs. Later, the railway follows the beautiful Thames Valley downstream. On the approach into London you’ll see Windsor Castle away to your right.
The diesel trains on this journey are British Rail high speed trains (HST). They may not be the youngest, but they are extremely comfortable and have large windows – perfect for sightseeing on a route which has some great scenery.
London interchange: London Paddington to London St. Pancras International
The quickest way to travel between London Paddington and St. Pancras International is on the Circle (yellow) or Hammersmith & City (pink) line on the London Underground. Though it seems counter-intuitive, when you alight from the train at London Paddington station, turn away from the main station concourse and follow the platform to the back of the station (follow the pink line on the floor!). Climb a short set of stairs onto a footbridge at the end of the platform, and follow signs to Circle line via King's Cross. All eastbound trains on the Circle or Hammersmith & City lines call at 'Kings Cross St. Pancras' Underground station where you'll be signposted to Eurostar departures.
London to Paris
Board a Eurostar service from London to Paris. There are upwards of 15 trains to Paris from London each day with departures at least hourly from the beautifully restored station at St Pancras in London. The fastest trains speed to Paris in just 2 hrs 16 mins, with slower services taking up to 20 mins longer to reach the Gare du Nord in Paris. The first part of the journey from London sweeps through Thameside landscapes and rural Kent to reach the Channel Tunnel. Little more than an hour after leaving London you'll already be in northern France, tracking south through Flanders fields towards Paris.
Remember to factor in at least half an hour for Eurostar's airline-style baggage check prior to boarding your train. There is a luggage and body scan and you'll be asked to show your passport. There are no restrictions on taking liquids on board Eurostar trains.
Paris interchange: Paris Nord to Paris Lyon
When you alight from the train at Gare du Nord look for signs to the Metro and RER. Once you've bought a ticket follow the signs to 'RER D', direction 'Melun' or 'Malesherbes'. So long as you're heading in the right direction, all the trains on this line stop at Gare de Lyon. The actual train journey takes around 10 mins with just one stop on the way at Châtelet-les-Halles. Upon alighting from the RER train at Gare de Lyon, follow the signs to the mainline station. The signs read 'Accès aux trains Grandes Lignes'. The whole journey from the concourse at Gare du Nord to the mainline departure platforms at Gare de Lyon will normally take about 40 mins but we recommend leaving at least 50 mins.
If you are arriving at Gare du Nord from London, bear in mind that you can buy Paris Métro tickets at the Eurostar terminal at St. Pancras and on board the Eurostar train. Similarly, passengers arriving at the Gare du Nord on Thalys trains from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands can buy Metro tickets on the train (at the Thalys Bar). Although universally referred to as Métro tickets, they are in fact valid on RER trains too.
Paris to Barcelona
Direct TGV trains to Barcelona leave Paris two to four times per day. The frequency is higher in summer than winter. The TGVs to Barcelona leave from the Gare de Lyon in Paris. In Barcelona they terminate at Sants station. This journey is focused on speed, so there are not a lot of stops along the way - from six to ten depending on which train you take. All trains stop at the historic cities of Montpellier, Perpignan and Girona. There is some very fine scenery along the way too. Early on in the journey, you sweep through Burgundy vineyards, and later on there are engaging views of the coastal landscapes of Languedoc. After the stop at Perpignan, the train speeds south towards the Pyrenees, before diving under the mountains in the Perthus Tunnel.
If you worry that six and half hours if a long time to spend on one train, fear not! This rates as one of favourite high-speed routes. You can relax and gaze out of the window and, from to time, wander along to the bistro for a coffee or a snack. The direct services from Paris to Barcelona are all operated by French TGV trains. But it's a joint venture with Spanish rail operator Renfe, so you find a dash of Spanish style combining with French flair on this international route.